What Does Criminal Trespass Charges Mean in Colorado?

Nov 17, 2014 | Trespassing Defense

One of the more common charges used by law enforcement is criminal trespass. The crime of criminal trespass, as with most crimes, has various levels. This page deals with the most common form of first degree criminal trespass. If you are charged with criminal trespass, it is important that you do not attempt to handle this charge on your own. A knowledgeable Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney is your best option. Trying to work through the legal system on your own, without a lawyer, is similar to trying to drive a car at high speeds, through thick fog. It’s not safe and it’s definitely not smart.

First Degree Criminal Trespass is defined in Colorado Revised Statute 18-4-502.

A person commits the crime of first degree criminal trespass if such person knowingly and unlawfully enters or remains in a dwelling of another or if such person enters any motor vehicle with intent to commit a crime therein. First degree criminal trespass is a class 5 felony.

A class 5 felony carries with it a possible prison sentence of between one to three years and significant fines. In addition to the legal penalties, it carries with it the problems that come with being a felon, which include, difficulty finding employment, making renting a house or apartment hard, and losing the right to possess a weapon, even for hunting purposes.

As in all crimes, it has several phrases and words that go beyond the typical meanings normally attached to those words. For example, dwelling of another is a broad term which can mean house, trailer, tent, or other living quarters. Typically, this kind of charge is filed in a domestic violence situation. The following is a fact pattern typically seen in trespassing cases.

A person (defendant) goes over to their significant other’s (victim) house or apartment. Often, the home belongs to an ex-spouse or ex-girlfriend/boyfriend. Some sort of disagreement occurs. The defendant and the victim begin to fight, either verbally or physically. The victim tells the defendant to leave. The defendant continues to argue or fight, not immediately leaving. The argument can be over a child, property, or simply words. Regardless of the reason, when law enforcement arrives, the defendant will often be charged for unlawfully remaining in the “dwelling of another”.

While this fact pattern may seem complicated, charges may be filed when a defendant simply wants to say good-night to his child living in the victim’s home. The victim tells the defendant “no” and shuts the door on the defendant. The defendant might put his foot in the door and say “I just want to say goodnight”. The victim calls the police and the defendant may be charged with first degree criminal trespass because technically his actions violated the statute.

Often I hear defendants say that they are confident that if they just explain everything to the prosecutor, the prosecutor will simply see things their way and dismiss the case. This is almost always not the case.  If your side of the story was so compelling then the police would not have arrested you or filed charges against you. The prosecutor is usually going to support the police in their decision to charge you with a crime.

What you need if you have been charged with a crime is an experienced guide who will walk you through the legal process. You need a criminal defense lawyer who will review the police reports, interview witnesses, and fight for you. A lawyer fights for you by developing making sure that the prosecutor is held to their burden of proof and that they prove the case. Often times, the prosecutor cannot prove a case, but they will not tell you that information. They will offer you a plea bargain and hope you do not hire an attorney who will make sure you are protected.

Randolf Sartagoda

Randolf Sartagoda